The Folly of the Cross

The Passion of Christ in Theology and the Arts in Early Modernity

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Richard Viladesau
  • New York, NY: 
    Oxford University Press
    , June
     280 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.


The Folly of the Cross is the fourth book in Richard Viladesau's series examining the aesthetics and theology of the cross through Christian history. Previous volumes have brought the story up through the Baroque era. This new book examines the reception of the message of the cross from the European Enlightenment to the turn of the twentieth century.

The opening chapters set the stage in the transition from the Baroque to the Classical eras, describing the changing intellectual and cultural paradigms of the time. Viladesau examines the theology of the cross in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and the aesthetic mediation of the cross in music and the visual arts. He shows how in the post-Enlightenment era the aesthetic treatment of the cross widely replaced the dogmatic treatment, and how this thought was translated into popular spirituality, piety, and devotion. The Folly of the Cross shows how classical theology responded to the critiques of modern science, history, Biblical scholarship, and philosophy, and how both classical and modern theology served as the occasions for new forms of representation of Christ's passion in the arts and music.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Fr. Richard Viladesau has taught theology for over forty years at the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington and at Fordham University, where he now holds the rank of Professor Emeritus. A priest of the diocese of Rockville Centre, Long Island, Fr. Viladesau is also the administrator of Our Lady Star of the Sea Church in Saltaire, Fire Island, NY.


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